The Professional Negligence and Healthcare co-chairs Drew Reynolds and Chris Vrettos have brought a case to watch to TDLA's attention. The Tennessee Court of Appeals issued an opinion last week that might be of interest to attorneys in the Professional Negligence and Health Care Section. For a PDF of the opinion, Bidwell v. Strait et al., click here.
Bidwell appears to be the first appellate opinion to address the “notice back” provision set forth in Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(5). Among other things, Bidwell holds that the onus is no longer solely on the claimant to identify all necessary parties to a health care liability action; rather, based on § 29-26-121(a)(5), a defendant may not withhold the identity of a known or necessary person, entity, or health care provider who may be a properly named defendant.
Although Bidwell involved issues relating to the Governmental Tort Liability Act that will not arise in most health care liability actions, the plaintiffs’ bar may seize on the above-referenced language from the opinion in order to argue that defendants must provide written notice of any persons, entities, or health care providers who may be properly named defendants within 30 days of receiving pre-suit notice in all health care liability actions. Based on the holding of Bidwell, however, the scope of the obligation imposed on such defendants is not entirely clear. Accordingly, it would be worthwhile for attorneys representing defendants in health care liability actions to review this opinion and monitor any potential appeal, as well as Tennessee courts’ interpretation of § 29-26-121(a)(5) going forward.